For adventure-seekers, nature-lovers & those looking for memory-making family-time, this really is a Perfect Family Adventure … in Kenya.
I’m not going to bore you to death again with my endless adventure stories, my children not quite behaving as they should or my rather strong points of view of how the soft-furnishings should be, I’m going to present you with a photo collage of my new favourite Safari Adventure with Children, a handfull of days at Turmaren Camp, in Laikipia, Northern Kenya.
I think this family safari is best summarized in the words of our children; ‘that is my favourite and bestest camp we’ve ever stayed!’ Billy (our son), ‘me too’ exclaimed Zia (our daughter) … We had the most amazing time!!
We truly enjoyed our little 1/2 term exploring Kenya’s rugged north …. thank you Tumaren Camp so very much for putting up with this mucky, mad, energetic, scalliwag family!!
Here is a bit more info on Tumaren Camp: This lovely tented camp was originally the home of Kerry and James (owners of Karisia Walking Safaris) and it has 6 beautiful sleeping tents, solar lighting and running water. Each tent can fit a family of 4/5 if needed or else kept as a double/twin. Guests staying here do walks, camel rides, picnics, go rock climbing and game viewing from the camp and come back to the camp each day. This camp does not move location. Full board accommodation with drinks, walks, camel rides, rock climbing, market visits, school visits & drives included.
To book a Family Adventure Safari tailored to YOUR unique & dynamic bunch click here!
Read about some of our other family travel adventures in Laikipia.
Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach, Kenya (with kids!)
On the south coast of Kenya lies one of our family’s favourite escapes… the award winning Diani Beach! With sand that is irresistibly soft & brilliantly white; a crystal clear turquoise sea; a reef teaming with vibrant aquatic life; and child friendly activities galore; it was so difficult to limit this list to our Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach!
Colobus Conservation – A very simple, no frills, not-for-profit organisation to promote conservation of the colobus and other monkeys and turtles, as well as the whole Diani eco-system and environment … and address the threats to its survival. The organization works in partnership with local communities to promote conservation and we ask you kindly to visit. In our view, its because of this organisation that Diani beach is as it is, they continuously fight the cause.
Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest – for those interested in history, flora & fauna, it is an interesting hour or two. Kaya Kinondo is a sacred forest originally home to the Digo people. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, they now live nearby and use the forest as a place of worship. The Digo people show us a beautiful example of environmental conservation and cultural preservation managed at the grassroots level.
Feeding Bushbaby’s – an incredible activity for adults and kids alike. Jump in a Tuktuk at 6.30pm (book first) and head for Stilts Backpackers for a sundowner and some supper whilst the gorgeous little bushbaby’s are fed at 7pm (you will be able to feed them if you’re lucky). A great night out for kids!
Golf – Diani is home to one of the Kenyan coast’s finest golf courses, the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, which offers a championship golf course (18-hole, par 72, course measuring 6084 meters with driving range, chipping green and bunker, resident golf professional, equipment hire and Pro shop.
Ngalawa Fishing Boat Excursion – Kenyan fisherman traditional dugout canoe excursion with a paddle. It’s a natural, exciting and peaceful excursion over the waters of the Indian Ocean. You can even choose to visit the sand bank and snorkel. Child friendly for kids who can swim. Our tip: take water to drink.
Glass Bottom Boat – Contact John +254 (0) 726 678867 to book in advance. A very Kenyan 2-hr long excursion in a shaded glass-bottom boat that will take you out to the sandy reef to snorkel in the pools and have a walk around the reef. The reef can get a bit over-populated in high season but try to get there early. This boat is nothing fancy at all, but full of character and the kids will have a ball. Child friendly to the extreme! Our Tip: Take water to drink.
A Traditional Swahili Dhow day trip – an incredible day out to the local Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park in a traditional boat, with Pilli Pipa. You will join other guests on one of two dhows (both with flushing loos and shades) off which you will be able to dive or snorkel (even if you can’t swim!!). Dolphins and whale shark/humpback whale sightings are a regular occurrence. You will receive lunch at the owners private home prepared by smiling Swahili ladies … there is even a swimming pool! The price includes transport to and from your hotel, all equipment, trained guides, marine park fees, water & snacks, a wonderful lunch and drinks with lunch. Every child visiting Diani who enjoys snorkeling should do this!
Deep Sea Fishing – East Africa is a Mecca for deep-sea fishermen, many world and all-Africa records being held in Kenya. Half day, full day, night & day-night-day trips are available with Sport Fishing Kenya who pride themselves in being passionate about sustainable sportfishing and engage actively in conservation both on the water and onshore. Their policy is to tag and release all billfish and other designated endangered species such as Giant Trevally. There are six types of billfish, striped, blue and black marlin, sailfish, swordfish, sharks, wahoo, yellow fin, tuna and dorado. Boats typically depart in the early morning, trawl for bait and then head out to the deep water to wait for the big catch. The fishing season is August to March (billfish season from November to March). Perfect father & son outing!
Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddling (SUP), Snorkeling … You name it! More fun in the water then you (or your kids!) ever dreamed was possible. All available at Sand & Sea Watersports.
Deep Sea Diving – for complete beginners and experienced divers alike, minimum age is 10 years. It is also possible to do a ‘fun dive’ where no experience is required and a guide takes you down to 6 metres. Due to the Indo-Pacific current, the Indian Ocean boasts the same fish species as Australia: manta rays; reef, hammerhead and whale sharks; turtles and multi-coloured reef fish in coral gardens. A wide range of deep sea diving excursions including certified PADI diving courses and wreck diving can be arranged with Pilli Pipa.
So what are you waiting for? Grab the kiddos & let’s head to Diani Beach!
Looking for the perfect family-friendly place to stay? Check out our blog post on our family’s memory filled holiday on the beach.
A Cultural Trip Through the World’s Most Impressive Wildlife Spectacle, The Maasai Mara, Kenya
The Maasai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies are indeed considered the World’s Most Impressive Wildlife Spectacle on earth. On this occassion, the kids & I find ourselves completely engaged in a vibrant cultural experience whilst being immersed amongst this fabulous spectacle in the Maasai Mara.
As a Kenyan national, when a cultural tourist attraction tries to lure me in, I am, honestly, filled with dread! Naff shows for mass toursits, flirty beach acrobats, haggling tribesmen and women laden with substandard beaded products … are not the Kenya that I love, but stiff-upper lip, shoulders back and off we go.
Maji Moto Eco Camp, Loita Hills – Our cultural Maasai experience
Our first port of call was the Maji Moto Eco Camp, at USD120 per adult, per night, including all accommodation, all food plus teas and coffees, fully guided activities (nature walks, cultural Maasai experiences such as warrior training, fire making, beading, walking safaris, school and natural hot spring visits, use of 24-speed mountain bikes), I was intriqued! (Pssst. that is super-cheap for African travel as park fees alone are up to USD80 per person, let alone accommodation!).
Location-wise it’s an ideal one-nighter in between Nairobi and the Maasai Mara for those fascinated by the Maasai culture. The camp is a small, simple, clean, characterful and (almost) environmentally sensitive tented camp operated fully by the Maasai people from the nearby village of Maji Moto. I wouldn’t suggest more than a night; in my mind its more of an experience than accommodation, but definitely worth it if this unique culture interests you! We arrived to a cultural Maasai welcome of dancing, walking, jumping, singing, hmmmmmM’ing & waaaaYaYaYa’ing closely followed by the friendliest of Maasai men showing us the camp itself, their cute little pup tents and the women showing us the beaded work they make (its OK I can cope, its for a good cause!). Once we were settled the men continued to show and teach us about their culture and traditions, their dancing and hunting skills, the medicinal uses for local plants, their diet; they lead their clients on beautiful walks through the Loita hills and spend hours telling of their wonderful life-stories around the campfire, they take you to see where their natural water springs are and what makes their life better. I was pretty aprehensive when it came to mealtimes .. but the vegetarian food was indeed edible, in fact it was tasty for me … though I would recommend bringing snacks for fussy eaters and kids (I didn’t feel arguing with them about eating boiled cabbage a worthy cause!!), maybe also bring some biltong for the carnivores out there! Oh and a little bottle of red wine or two for the evening if thats what you fancy (nothing that needs to be cold)? Indeed it certainly is a cultural experience through and through, not wildlife, but culture… and you know what, my kids loved it, which of course meant I did. A stay here certainly does immerse you in the ancient culture and knowledge of the Maasai people.
Kandili Camp, Leopard Gorge, Maasai Mara
Off we head to our ‘wildlife Masai Mara experience’, in the company of the cultural immersed Maasai people. Arriving in a pretty frail mood after the directions were hard to follow, or was it my ability to read directions??? Either way we were 2 or was it 3 hours late and it was getting dark! With 2 young kids, deep breaths were truly required. On arrival, our mood was lightened immediately as we were met by the professional, charming and indeed interesting William, a handsome Maasai gentleman who manages Kandili … whilst we were exchanging nicities, a group of ba’jingled Maasai ladies began singing, standing, crouching, singing, standing, crouching, hmmmmmM’ing & waaaaYaYaYa’ing, in true cultural Maasai tradition. Kenyans really do know how to welcome people, it’s an exceptional trait and in no time the kids were also bejangled and jumping in the thick of it. No sooner had this finished another two wonderful Maasai gentleman had arrived and swooped up Billy and Zia and a football, and firm friends were made. Happiness is … when ‘family-friendly camp’ teams actually are fantastic with kids, it immediately makes me feel at ease and in my experience, the kids are immediately better behaved as they’re not constantly being shouted and sssshhhhhhed at! To increase this level of welcome even more, the charming William had judged the kids (and my 😳!!) exhaustion levels on arrival and rather than expecting us to join the other guests for a campfire chat and later supper, he had set up a little dining table by our gorgeous, spacious, tasteful family tent, next to our very own bonfire and supper was already on its way. This is what made me LOVE Kandili, right then and there, this was it!! 😊
The camp itself … as they state on their website ‘Kandili has been designed to preserve and not interfere with the wildlife that inhabits the fascinating conservancy area‘, I’d agree with this statement. Kandili is a perfect tented camp; it’s attractive, unobtrusive, adventurous, terribly comfortable and we couldn’t have felt more welcome. May I add that Kandili Camp is 100% green. The camp fully runs on solar power for electricity and for hot water and they try to use 0 plastic … I love this! After a blissful night sleep with the sounds of Africa sneaking through our dreams, we were whisked off on a mind-clearing early morning drive and a little walk through Leopard gorge, a beautiful place to spend a morning. You will generally drive here with your own vehicle and guide … and everything else at Kandili for a family with young kids is spot on!
Practicalities: – Maji Moto (MM) – For those looking to experience real Maasai cultural experience, a night here will certainly offer you just that. – Kandili Camp (KC) – A simple but stylish tented camp with everything you should want and an amazing team to look after you. This is incredible value for money! The Areas: – MM – you’re here for culture and real life, and that is indeed what you get. – KC – The area is absolutely beautiful, prime wildlife area in low season, in high season, I imagine it will get rather popular with other tourists, but this is what happens when somewhere is as awesome as the Maasai Mara!! For those travelling to Kenya with kids – Do it, stay at both these places!! – MM will teach them how to live for a night with no luxuries but gaining a lot of knowledge. – at KC, if you as a family enjoy nature, wildlife and the concept of safari, you’ll have a ball as a family … and its super comfy! Weather – warm days and a little bit chilly nights. What to Pack? – A good camera and binoculars (even for the kids, it’ll help them get into it more). Layers … jeans and a warm jumper / jacket for the evening and early mornings and shorts and a t-shirt for the day. High SPF sun cream, hats. Price: – MM – USD120 per adult, per night (and no conservation fees) – this includes all accommodation, all food plus teas and coffees, fully guided activities (nature walks, cultural experiences such as warrior training, fire making, beading, walking safaris, school and natural hot spring visits, use of 24-speed mountain bikes). – KC – From only USD125 per person per night, conservation fees are on top of this – this includes accommodation, all food and a lovely walk in low season to USD235 in high season. They also have a stay 4, pay for 3 night special 😲 For this price, you just can’t go wrong!! My advise: People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to experience a safari how it always was, at an unbeatable rate, but with all the luxuries you need (comfy beds, beautiful tented rooms, cold drinks, yummy bush food, great hosting etc.) Kandili Camp will suit you perfectly. If you would like to experience real cultural Maasai safari, then Maji Moto is for you. In both instances, it is important to have your own vehicle and an amazing guide. Please contact Chaniato help you with this and / or to book your stay at either or both places …. or anywhere else in Africa, for you or your family!!
Want to know the ideal time to plan a Family Safari to the Maasai Mara? Find out here!
Book YOUR family a safari with the team we know and trust.
In Search of the perfect Family-Friendly Hidden Gem, in Egypt. Honestly, Egypt has never appealed to me, but with the allure of my sister & her extended family temporarily living in Cairo, off the three of us went, Billy, 6, Zia, 5 and me, ancient!! A blank canvas, an open mind, eyes on stalks and fully prepared for the eyeball-sweating heat .. sort of!
Cairo’s history is fascinating beyond belief. Indeed it’s a hussling, bussling, wobbly-pavement and hanging electricity wires city … the fact that it’s dispersed with incredbly showy shopping malls & flashy kids entertainment made it difficult to fully comprenend. Do I like it, do I not? Is it grotesque amongst so much poverty? or is it just normal for nowadays? Hmmmm ….. Hey ho, any Kenyan released into shops = pure happiness; incredible culture & history, bring in on!!
Apart from the dreaded (pretending not to like them) shopping centres, did we discover any memorable Hidden gems in Cairo? Well I’m going to add a little list of the fun things we did and what we got out of them as a family .. whether the most popular tourist attractions in the world, or hidden gems:
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities – An incredible museum! For those historians out there a few days would be ideal; our personal favourite section was the breath-taking collection of the infant-king Tutankamun’s belongings …. though it transpired one child doesn’t so much love being in a room with hundreds of dead bodies (Mummies!), so our visit was fairly speedy.
The Grand Bazaar, Khan El-Khalili, in Old Cairo – A trinket market primarily set up for tourists. A huge amount of colour and buzz, a little ‘badgery’ but a great experience if you love a bit of tat-shopping, as I indeed do!! Oh and we found a little silver shop hidden amongst it all with gorgeous silver goodies!
A little tour around some places of worship, SEVEN to be precise – Synagogues, churches, Roman Catholic churches such St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, The Basilica of St Therese of the Child Jesus; Islamic mosques, the Al Hakim Mosque, the Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel of Saladin etc. etc., honestly it was incredibly interesting, fastinating, beautiful and inspiring, and we saw where Jesus once lay, apparently … but … note to self, don’t take 5&6 year olds around 7 places of worship, in 42 degree heat😓, in the same day …. or their mother to be honest; Billy recounts it as his worst day ever!! Three places and three ice creams would have been perfect.
Tentmakers Street(Sharia Khayamiya)– Hidden Gem – our guide was furious we’d asked him to take us here, but we had fun and it’s a pretty cool place! Hop on a TukTuk as the road is fairly narrow and overall it’s not hassly or touristy, through sdtill full of colourful little shops with men sewing beautiful tapestries, applique, weaving …. etc.
The vibrant craft community of Fustat– Hidden Gem – Pottery Galore, tile-making, metal-denting, paper-making and not a tourist in sight … all in the Fustat area near Coptic Cairo, I dont mind if I do!!! This was a personal highlight for me. You can pop your kids into a little paper-making course whilst you shop until you drop in some beautiful artesan galleries / shops / art studios .. there is nothing gold plated about the area, it essentially looks like an industrial area, but the talent, the talent!!
Boutique shopping – Hidden Gem – Egyption Cotton & Essential Oils, Soaps & Salts, Silk scarves, Vintage Home Accessories, Hand-made Jewelery, Organic Food … and kiddy cooking to keep them occupied and happy whilst the retail therapy takes place – all this fun can be found in the Delga Stores, 2, Road 218, Degla, Maadi. Maadi or El-Ma’adi is an affluent, leafy suburban district south of Cairo.
Sundowners on the Nile on a local Felucca– Hidden Gem – Super affordable. Take a coolbag of drinks, snacks and enjoy a little no-frills sail along the nile (if theres any wind!).
The Pyramids of Giza – More than 2m limestone and granite blocks were hauled into place on the Great Pyramid. The average weight of one block is about 2.5 tons … how can this not impress you? If you are planning on going during the day, get there early to miss the crowds (and heat 😓) … but we would rather suggest you go to the incredible evening sound & light show.
As well as Cairo, the family’s highlight was a couple of nights in one of Egypt’s seven Oasis’, Al Fayoum – a complete Hidden Gem!!! A land of unspoiled nature & rich history, a place worth discovering! Only 90 km southwest of Cairo, what was so much fun here?
The Journey – indeed this was the first discovery. Beautiful rice paddy feilds, the sunflower fields, the water buffalo & donkeys at work, the road-side food stalls and the rustic charm of the surrounding areas.
Wadi Wadi El-7itan (Valley of Whales) –Little Boy Heaven!!! UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the earliest prehistoric whale fossils ever discovered. A fabulous little Fossil & Climate Change Museum, sand scattered with prehistopric fish bones and more than 400 X 40 million year old preserved basilosaurus and dorodontus skeletons show the clear evolution of land-based mammals into sea-going ones, as they have vestigial front and back legs.
The Magic Lake (gorgeous) andGabal El-Medawara – a scenic hiking option overlooking the Magic Lake, and a great place to camp and to marvel at the stars!! Here we were so, so, so lucky to spot a nearing extinction Ruppell’s Sand Fox.
Maidum Pyramid – is believed to be the first attempt to build a pyramid
Tunis Village – A picturesque village known for being the arts center of Al Fayoum, specializing in handcrafts and literary works. We spent two days in pottery classes and shopping, together as a family …. this was a highlight for us!
The Petrified Forest of Fayoum – the largest petrified forest in the world, 40m high trees that have survived for thousands of years.
A Felucca on Lake Qaroun – a beautiful evening out on this ancient natural lake.
Sand boarding – Its an Oasis so sand dunes are all over the place, pick your spot and off you go. The most famous sand boarding spot is “Qoussour El-Arab”.
Camel Trekking & Horse riding through the desert.
Hold our breath and visit the Shakshouk Fishing Village.
In Abu Boxa, fishing boats are manually produced.
Visit Al-Agamiyin: for palm frond furniture known in Arabic as 3argoun.
We stayed in Byoum Lakeside Hotel, I’ve never paid so little to stay anywhere in my life. It was bigger than I’m used to, but perfecly comfortable rooms, a gorgeous swimming pool and delicious food… highly recommended.
In brief, how did we find Egypt? For me the highlight of most holidays is spending time with loved ones. My sister has two gorgeous step-sons and they made this holiday awesome for me, and the ankle-biters; 24 hour entertaibnment all round, Hannes & Eduardo, legends!!!
Honestly Cairo, for me, is not a typical holiday destination I would choose, it was super sweaty, dusty and dirty, the men are infuriating but I do love ‘amazing’ and the pyramids, the churches, the museum ….. are all ‘amazing’! The people are certainly talented in arts and crafts and the food is delicious. Al Fayoum was the hidden-gem highlight for me … rustic charm and absolutely incredible.
I’m utterly delighted that we went and feel enriched as a result!
Looking for other Family – Friendly places to stay in Africa? Here are some of our favourites.
Our Family-Friendly Guide to The World’s Most Impressive Wildlife Spectacle, The Annual Wildebeest Migration
If it’s the very best wildlife spectacle on earth that you’re looking to witness, with your family, the Annual Wildebeest Migration is indeed the World Cup of Wildlife, this is what you’re looking for. If it’s to get off the beaten track, away from the crowds, this guide is as helpful … just keep away😊!
What is the Annual Wildebeest Migration?
The annual wildebeest migration isthe movement of over 1.5m wildebeest, 500,000 Burchell’s zebra, 200,000 Thompson’s gazelle and 18,000 eland antelope across 40,000 square kilometres; the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National Reserve & its surrounding conservancies in Kenya … these masses of wildlife are in search of green grass, they’re following the rain … hence the exact dates are not 100% predictable, but there is a continuous movement that generally takes place at the same time each year.
This movement is over expansive plains, accross crocodile infested rivers and through forests; it offers the viewer unbelievable experiences, both incredibly beautiful, awe inspiring, flabberghasting & brutal to the core. Put your seat belts on!
First & foremost, we would like to inform you that the wildlife viewing in the Serengeti or the Maasai Mara is excellent all year round, so any time is a good time to travel to either places, you just need to know where to base yourselves, and this is where we come in handy (did we mention we also own a safari organisation company?). Please feel free to contact us and we will help! Being one of the 7th Wonders of the World, dont expect to be here alone, you will be sharing this spectacle with many other cars … unless you know someone who knows something 😉 and we will book you in little private conservancies away from the traffic jams, but close enough to dip in and out as you like!
Please use this only as a guideline when planning your East African safari as it is indeed weather dependent…. We’ve had double migrations before, early ones and late ones of course!
When & Where to view The Great Migration
January to March– The big herds are often in the South / South East Serengeti (mainly Ndutu & Kusini). Calving often takes place in Jan / Feb, therefore there are loads of young, lots of predators and great visibility. A great time to travel here.
April & May – The herds are now generally moving towards central Serengeti (Seronera). This is typically the time of the long rains in East Africa; generally rain appears in short bursts leaving dramatic skies and beautiful sunsets and game viewing is still excellent. NB. There are some great discounts available at lodges and camps throughout Kenya & Tanzania, and at The SAFARI Company, we love this time of year for photographers!
June – The large herds of wildebeest are generally in central Serengeti (Seronera) as well as western Serengeti (Grumeti) in June. We love this time of year, the grass is usually greet, lots of young, beautiful skies and low volumes of visitors.
July & August – They start to head north towards the Mara River (the river in between the Serengeti & the Maasai Mara). July is usually when the annual wildebeest migration all kicks off. River crossings may be seen in both the Western Corridor (Grumeti area) and the North (Mara River) within the Serengeti… as well as the northern Maasai Mara, The Mara Triangle and Musiara area.
September & October – The herds have indeed filled up the Maasai Mara plains at this time of year as they move north and then east through the Masai Mara (from The Triangle, they move through Musiara, through Mara North Conservancy, Olare Orok Conservancy, Naboisho Conservancy and the Talek area, Siana and Olderkesi, starting to cross back to Tanzania in October / November.
Book a stay at one of our favourite Family- Friendly lodges on the reserve here or Read about one of our most memorable family trips to the Masai Mara here!
The Pressure of Getting it Right! An affordable multigenerational beach holiday in Kenya … As someone who’s lived in Kenya all her life, someone who’s worked in the African travel industry for 26 years, who’s company specialises in family travel it’s up to me to book all our holidays …. this time it’s somewhere for my extended family’s summer beach holiday, again … again The Pressure of Getting it Right … is On!
Daily, I see more and more people looking to travel on a teeny, tiny budget, but expecting perfection in return. Trust me, some of my family (you knwo who you are 😉 is absolutely no different, ‘Chania let’s all go somewhere gorgeous on the beach; we have USD1 per night … how lovely, we can’t wait for amazing food and a beautiful place, with a gorgeous swimming pool, on the beach’ ….. seriously😳!
So on a mission I went, again. One of the lovely little Hidden Gems we use for our clients on a tight budget came up trumps! They offered my rather extreme family a wonderful rate … Diani Blue here we come.
The adventure begun before we even reached the airport in Nairobi (to fly on the affordable Silverstone to Ukunda, Diani Beach). My parents reached the airport in good time; my sister, myself and the three kids didn’t. Traffic was in a gridlock and we were about to miss our flight. After calling the incredibly helpful and understanding Silverstone airline on numerous occasions, they informed us they couldn’t wait for us any longer, so we jumped out of the taxi; 2 adults, 3 kids, 100 suitcases, 200 beachbags, swimming noodles, hand boards, surf-boards, cuddly toys, beach hats, flippers and snorkles and we ran, along the main Nairobi road, we ran, we ran .. screaming kids, flipflips breaking, noodles flying away; what a sight it must have been, especially when the gridlock was released and all the traffic drove past us, including our taxi!
Anyhow, stiff from all the intense activity before our flight, we arrived to the caramel-warm air of Diani beach. Our rather characterful taxi met us and off we bumbled, a 5 minute drive to Diani Blue. 1st impression of the Blue is a beautiful forested and ponded area spotted with butterflies, sleeping monkeys, and beautiful tweeting birds skipping from branch to branch… pheow something for the bored and sweaty kids to do whilst we checked in! Then the view!!! The view through the Lamu doors on the most beautiful little swimming pool in the foreground and the aqua-seas in the background … yeay.
Diani Blue is indeed a charmingly small and exclusive (only 6 rooms) place lapped by the waters of the Indian Ocean; the love-child of a little boutique hotel and a relaxed barefoot beach-family who run it; the structure is elegance personified, the décor and atmosphere homey, relaxed and welcoming, located bang-on Diani Beach, which was recently voted the ‘Best Beach in Africa’ by the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry: The 21st Annual Travel Awards.
We were shown our lovely little
air-conditioned or fanned (the choice is yours) Swahili-style rooms, with
lovely en-suite bathrooms (with showers) all overlooking the swimming pool;
perfect, absolutely perfect! Kids leaping on the beds whilst you’re trying to
find their swimming costumes, sun cream, hats etc. etc. and then we all leap in
the pool…. That was it, we were at the beach, heaven!
Our 10 days at Diani Blue were filled properly bonding as a multi-generational family, my parents, my sister, her boy, our kids and me ….. time together, a true luxury.
We all sat chilling and chatting, bickering & winging 😉 by the pool whilst the kids screamed around it (sorry!);
We spent time walking along the gorgeous beach, making sandcastles, playing beach cricket … trying to provide enough entertainment to stop the youth from bickering;
Surfing the crazily huge waves on belly boards; my 78 year old father was in heaven … finally two grandsons to muck around with, not two sissy daughters! Mum got tumbled a few times too .. hilarious memories that will last forever;
We went on an Ngalawa, Diani Blue’s traditional dugout canoe, to the sand-reef to find shells and urchins, to snorkel, to play French cricket;
We had a little bumpy camel ride up the beach;
We went on a Glass Bottom boat with the legendary John, who loves having kids on board, and they love him .. he teaches them all about marine life, starfish, sea urchins etc. etc.;
We visited the Colobus Conservation Trust to show the kids what people do, the lengths they go to in order to conserve the wildlife around us; pretty impressive;
We went to a back-packer joint to see Bushbaby’s coming in for their evening meal of bananas.
We mainly ate delicious food at Diani Blue, the restaurant is called The Edge … delicious, simple and traditional crab, lobster, fish, fish & more fish, samosas, salads (I suggest the ginger crab, the feta samosas, the self-saucing chocolate pudding … oh and the fish fingers for the kids) .. the menu was amazing, we could eat when we wanted, overlooking the beach and lapping seas and it was so damn reasonable! The only advise I give, is to order an hour before you need to eat, to avoid tears from hungry tummies. We also went out for some deliciousness:
We treated ourselves for my sisters birthday at the Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant – Our personal favourite for a special occasion. Located on the beach front within Almanara Boutique Hotel & Villas, the modernization of the sweeping sails and curving beams create an ambience unparalleled on the east coast of Africa. The waiting staff are professional, kind and friendly, the ambience is friendly. As well as delicious, delumptios and heavenly fresh seafood, a selection of meat, salads and scrumptious treats for those with a sweet tooth… as well as being child friendly!!
We went toThe Sands at Nomad Beach Bar a few times, a wonderful beach bar, on the white sands of Diani Beach which wonderful pizzas, great Japanese, other seafood and non-seafood choices and a great ice-cream bar. Super Child friendly with a lovely little natural play area for all ages .. huge Connect 4, huge Tumbledown etc. loved this.
We went to Piri Piries Bar & Restaurant – a really lovely little café, restaurant and bar, very popular with Diani expat residents. Their menu is wonderful, serving seafood specialities, delicious meat dishes, vegetarian options, I loved the ploughmans and the huge selection of salads! They also offer amazing coffees and cocktails. Plus they had a great little playground for littlies.
We even went to the Colobus Shade – is a proper local restaurant owned by some Diani fisherman… get brave!🐙 There is nothing fancy or chic, but a great experience. It is reasonable and the fish platter or the plain fish, calamari and crab is fresh & delicious!
What a time … what special, precious time. We loved our relaxing stay at Diani Blue, we had a perfect time. The food amazing, the service slow .. but once Coastitus sets in, you don’t notice.
For value for money, you simply can’t beat it! Even if it may not have been as fun for them as it was us (Zia may have discovered some scissors … and a mosquito net and a bed-sheet and decided to see how they all worked together!!! The guilt to this day is unbearable, especially as they still haven’t sent me a bill! Sorry Diani Blue .. again!! I am waiting.
The guilt is still there, but I do believe Diani Blue & I pulled it off. It’s an awesome little place, a perfect place to bond with your family, it suits all generations and it doesnt empty your bank account. We had amazing food and a beautiful place, with a gorgeous swimming pool, on the beach ….. seriously!
Practicalities: Diani Blue – Is a personal, relaxed little beach place …. rather more an AirBnB than a lodge, but with the luxury of a beach-side restaurant at your fingertips. Diani Beach – Recently voted the ‘Best Beach in Africa’ by the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry: The 21st Annual Travel Awards. A flawless, long stretch of white-sand beach hugged by lush forest and kissed by surfable waves, it’s no wonder Diani Beach is so popular. This town/stretch of beach scores points with a diverse crowd: party people, families, honeymooners, backpackers and water-sports enthusiasts. Only one warning here, beware of high, high season as the beach can become a little busy. For those travelling to Kenya with kids, and grandparents – If you like to spend time with your kids, rather than palming them off onto a kids club; do it, it will be the best bonding experience, you can chill by the pool or do all the fun activities we did .. and they cater for kids perfectly here. For those who live in East Africa – go as a family or get a couple of families together to fill up the place (6 rooms only) and GO!!! You’ll have an incredible time…. and their resident rates are appealing! Weather – of course it depends on when you travel, but generally warm days and warm nights with a gorgeous sea-breeze … delicious. What to Pack? – High SPF sun cream, hats, swimmers and light clothes to go for your excursions (respecting the coastal Arabic society)….. If you can why not squeeze in the odd body board? Price – Between USD85 and USD115 per person per night, Bed & Breakfast. Contact us to book! My advise – People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to spend quality family time, relaxing but with something rather fun to do each day, please do come here!
Real Culture, Real Wilderness, Real Kenya … & kids love it!
Real Culture, Real Wilderness, Real Kenya … & kids love it! Lentorre is my new favourite cultural find…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone ;o)
I am constantly asked ‘where’s your favourite place in Kenya?’ or ‘where can I experience the “Real” Kenya?’. Honestly I simply can’t choose one .. or two .. or even five; there are so many incredible places suited to every different dynamic of person or group … but my new favourite cultural experience for my little family, is indeed Lentorre.
Receiving an invitation to visit Lentorre, with my family, at the end of a long summer holiday all seemed a little hectic to me, we were shattered and we simply didn’t know what to expect; the website was not completed, they didn’t have professional photos yet and I just didn’t know what to expect … but not wanting to appear rude …. we jumped in the car and went on our merry way, covered with smilie faces.
My travel and tourism career started 25 years ago co-managing the incredible Rusinga Island Camp on Lake Victoria (another incredible experience full of happy memories), but my marketing-tourism career begun at Shompole, just next to Lentorre, so driving here welled up incredible emotions for me of happiness and pride … after 15 years or so, it’s great to be back!
What an incredible drive it is, from Nairobi through the Great Rift Valley, over flamingo-covered Lake Magadi and through the Maasai & cattle dotted lands to the incredible Olkirimatian Conservancy where our incredible real Kenya experience begun.
We spent two incredible nights here and boy oh boy, what an awesome time we had.
The lodge itself is truly delicious in a hundred different ways. It is indeed attractive in a perfectly Kenyan way, each room enormously spacious, light in colour and a truly wonderful atmosphere. Our bedroom is the same size as my entire home (bigger actually) with our very own baths (yes baths with an s!!), a view of a highly popular watering hole in the foreground and Mt. Shompole in the distance and our very own swimming pool. We had landed in heaven.
The food is unique, healthy and delicious …. coconut and avocado soup, heavenly home-made chocolate ice-cream, yummy home-made juices …. mmmmm, really yummy.
Then it came to the activities … I am so, so excited to tell you about these!! Anyone interested in experiencing real, un-spoilt, un-ruined Maasai culture, this is it! Lentorre is a community lodge, each and every member of staff here comes from the local area, so you simply spend your time here doing what they have been doing all their life …. as well as some wonderful game drives of course; oh and an amazing swimming pool … plus one in each room; and an amazing sundowner (clinking and clanking glasses to celebrate the end of another wonderful day) and a bush breakfast (having a delicious picnic breakfast to celebrate the beginning of another wonderful day), so basically you do everything amazing that you have ever wanted to do on a cultural safari. Over our 36 hours we:
went for a glorious walk through the arid lands of Olkirimatian with incredible guides who are simply amazing with kids (another ‘best-ever’ experience!), who kept the kids interested throughout, even if they did have to carry them for much of the way.
went fishing for cat-fish in the neighbouring river.
cooked the fish we caught, traditionally, on the banks of the river.
bow & arrow lessons
herded the cattle into their boma for the night
milked the cows (or viewed it to be exact)
chatted to the wonderful Maasai family members and played with the kids
went on the best night drive I have even been on in my 40+ years in Kenya … where, as well as the usual fabulous Kenyan wildlife, roaming free, we also saw all these amazing nocturnal animals – 6 genet, 1 wild cat, 1 spotted hyena, 4 bat-eared foxes, a honey badger, … and a leopard drinking from out waterhole when we got back to our room!!!!!
What an experience for all of us. What surprised me most on this wonderful safari was how I found myself pondering in a Maasai Manyatta (homesteads made from mud) … that rather than feeling pity for this family being ‘less fortunate’ than I, I was wishing I lived their life. They’re happy, truly happy; they live an incredibly happy family-friendly lifestyle, all together, they chat a lot, cook together, milk the cows together, play together; they told me they don’t get stressed or worry about anything, except when there is a drought .. and even now they cant really change anything. I wondered what happened to us ‘educated’ folk. Why have we ruined our wonderful family units? Why do we have to answer emails within 2 seconds of them being sent? Why do we have to keep up our social media posts? Why do we have to watch the news? Why do we have to chose the right hue of Farrow & Ball paints for our kitchen? Why? Why? Why?
Practicalities: Lentorre – Will forever remind me of a truly uplifting cultural experience, kids swimming for hours in our room … and I’m dreaming of their food right now! Olkirimatian Conservancy – Deep in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, beyond the volcanic lunar landscape surrounding the soda lakes of Magadi and Natron, lies this oasis. Fed by crystal clear springs running off the South Loita and Nguruman escarpments, Lentorre provides the perfect spot to relax and soak in the wonders of a wild and untouched Africa. For those travelling to Kenya with kids – Do it, it will be the best cultural experience your kids will ever experience .. and they LOVE kids here, they cater for kids perfectly! For those who live in East Africa – get a couple of families together and GO!!! You’ll have an incredible time…. and their resident rates are appealing! Weather – warm days and warm nights … delicious … no need to wear jumpers even on night game drives. What to Pack? – A good camera and binoculars, high SPF sun cream, hats… and clothes for a lovely warm environment (shorts and a t-shirt). Price – USD860 per person per night which includes it all; all your meals, all your drinks (apart from champers), your game drives, walks, bush meals, amazing guiding etc. you will just need to pay extra for the boma visits … which all goes to the boma. Contact Lilian to book! My advise – People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to experience incredible culture, please do come here!
Book your real life family adventure in Kenya here!
What are you looking for in a safari? I’m looking for The Real Thing! A safari, staying at Offbeat Mara; a real tented camp on an outstandingly beautiful, private conservancy bordering The Masai Mara Reserve, where kids … and adults can be kids. This ticks my boxes!
What do you mean by the ‘Real Thing’ you ask? and what boxes? Do let me explain:
The Place – The Masai Mara reserve in the most incredible wildlife spectacle in the world, which sadly means at some times of the year it’s hotter than Oxford Circus/5th Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. Offbeat Mara is situated within the 74,000 acre Mara North Conservancy which borders the Masai Mara reserve; the scenery, the animals and the culture is all the same; the area is full of wildlife yet open to a few member camps only and has a strict policy on game viewing etiquette… loads of game, no lodges on every corner, no bustling within cars to see animals. For these reasons you get a properly exclusive wildlife experience that is otherwise becoming impossible to find … for those looking to experience the migration in the heart of the reserve; crack on, you can dip in and out of the circus to your hearts desire.
The Camp – a small, traditional safari camp, with only seven tented rooms, Offbeat Mara is a simple, cosy, private homely feel (in the good way that the English use, not the American version!) in the bush. Each tent is en suite with flush loos and traditional hot safari showers, privately scattered within the beautiful riverine forest encouraging privacy and offering a gorgeous view. The heart of the camp is a simple main ‘mess’ tent, on wooden decking, which has a sitting room , dining room and bar/library area.
The People – well, in my opinion this is exactly what the Masai Mara is all about. The wildlife is here, there and everywhere, the scenery is mind boggling, it’s a great guide that make The Mara a trip of a lifetime or not … and Offbeat have good guides, of yes they do! Kind, caring, thoughtful, amusing and dam they know their stuff!
The Experience – your 1st game drive in Africa makes tears come to your eyes, wild animals living in their natural habitat, happily roaming around the Savannah, the incredible views that await you around every corner, the beautiful Maasai people living at one with nature, striding across the African plains …. you don’t want 3 days of only game drives though, nope you don’t. By then the kids are screaming for their IPads and if you see another lion, you’re going to scream (us humans are weird) …. what you wanna do is:
Walk, get out on that African soil with your own feet, see nature, real nature with your own eyes. Learn about the little stuff, the bugs and beetles, the grasses and what poo belongs to who .. why not?
A surprise bush dinner party, under the stars.
A sundowner. Not a lot beats a Kenyan sundowner; set up under a lone acacia tree, overlooking miles and miles of Bloody Africa with a G&T in hand.
Go and see how the Maasai people live. It’s bright, cheerful, interesting … and quite shocking … it will stop you complaining about how your new Farrow & Ball paint which doesn’t quite match the Racing Car green on your chaise longues .. for a while.
Hell, why not hop on a hot air balloon for the morning … this is how to see the Mara, the peace, quiet of floating above the best wildlife spactacle on earth.
My little family are so very lucky. We stayed at Offbeat Mara, with 3 other families, all with small kids, for a long weekend. I simply cannot express what an incredible time we had. We stayed in an amazing little double tent, a family tent; the camp is indestructible so you’re not on the edge, terrified that your mini-terrorist is about to break the family crystal; the food was absolutely delicious, the G&T’s better; there was always something amazing to do, something amazing for the kids and adults .. walks, sundowners, picnics, nature walks, game drives … we literally couldnt fit in everything; the Offbeat team are out of this world with the adults, and kids .. and the best part is once the kids go to bed, a friendly Maasai guard sits on your tent verandah watching over sleeping beauty … whilst you can have a scream with your friends not far away.
Practicalities: Offbeat Mara – Will forever remind me of a natural, happy, homely time, spent with family, and friends. A simple tented camp, with everything you should want. Mara North Conservancy, The Maasai Mara – as I mentioned above, this is literally the best place to stay when visiting the Masai Mara, especially over the annual wildebeest migration, it gets you away from the crowds, but in the action. For those travelling to Kenya with kids – Do it, stay at Offbeat Mara. It’s simple, comfortable and offers them a ‘real’ safari experience, but with all the comforts you need. For those who live in East Africa – get a couple of families together and GO!!! You’ll have a scream. Weather – warm days and a little bit chilly nights. What to Pack? – A good camera and binoculars. Layers … jeans and a warm jumper / jacket for the evening and early mornings and shorts and a t-shirt for the day. High SPF sun cream, hats. Price – From USD460 per person per night which includes it all; all your meals, all your drinks (apart from champers), your game drives, walks, bush meals, amazing guiding etc. etc. BUT they have a tonne of amazing special offers for honeymooners, families, groups, early bird bookings etc. you can get this price down by 25%!! Contact Ray to make the most of these! My advise – People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to experience safari how it always was, but with all the luxuries you need, Offbeat Mara will suit you perfectly.
Need a little pick-me-up? An adventure? A change of pace? Raucous laughter? Easy, rally together your oldest friends and COME … come on a proper Kenyan safari, with old friends, and their families.
I have just been lucky enough to go on a Proper Kenyan Safari, with my Old University Housemates … and their families. Did we LAUGH? That’s an understatement. Did the 7 kids love it? Oh yes!
In 1997, three cocky youths left some ‘sort-of’ an university in Cardiff, Wales to tackle the world as it was; 21 years later, one in Australia, one in the UK and one in Kenya; we, for some reason, decided the time was right for a New Year safari … together … with our families (age 3 to 13). Apart from a couple of weddings, we had not been together for all this time, why, and how, on earth would it work?
A gorgeously rustic little family-owned, family-run six-bedroom eco-lodge on a 4,800 hectare private wildlife ranch just north of Mt. Kenya, the characterful El Karama is steeped in family history and truly supports the community and the environment, thoroughly. Our time at El Karama was incredible, indeed it is an incredible place to stay. Richard said he felt like he was ‘on safari at a ski-chalet’ , I rather like that explanation .. super-fun-filled days with food and drinks produced at all the most important times. We spent our time on game drives seeing an incredible amount of wildlife (hippos wallowing, lion on a kill, a tiny baby giraffe, a family of hyena, jackals on the hunt, the rare Gerenuk, the endangered Grevy’s zebra … the list continues), line fishing for the young boys, putting the world to right by the swimming pool, swimming in the gorgeous swimming pool, visiting the dairy and the humongous organic fruit and veggie garden, enjoying Tusker-time (and kids picnic supper) under an acacia tree overlooking miles and miles of Laikipia …. and of course snuggled up by the roaring fire at night telling the same old stories, hell we hadn’t heard them for 20 years, a lot of catching up was to be done!
Onwards & upwards, it was time to explore elsewhere, on with another character-building journey and this time it was on to one of the Great Rift Valley lakes, Lake Baringo. Yes, we made the decision to stay at Island Camp on Lake Baringo for our New Years Eve celebrations … and what a change of pace that was. A lovely little tented lodge on an island in the middle of this incredibly peaceful lake (no jet skiis, no power boats …. just hippos and crocodiles!!). Time here was spent by the pool, on the boat looking at the hippos, crocodiles, the incredible bird life and the interesting culture around the lake; Hmmmmm …. and quite strangely deciding to waterski, wake board, biscuit and donut in amongst it all … the kids were in heaven, the adults thought they were kids again …. and 2018 was introduced, in style. Cheers to friends on safari!
Our final destination of this adventure was the Maasai Mara, of course. The best place in the world to see The BIG 5. After the most adventurous journey of all (yup a little bit of getting stuck!) … we arrived at none other than the truly gorgeous House in the Wild. One of our group had a tear dropping down her cheek as we walked in, she said it was ‘just so incredible and beautiful and we are all so lucky to stay here’, well this was just the beginning;the people, the food, the experiences, it literally knocked our socks off! House in the Wild is a private home on the banks of the Mara river, tucked away on a 1000 acre private estate, Naretoi, on the edge of the Maasai Mara. A little 6-room lodge with a casual and laid back atmosphere, away from the crowds, we settled into another four days of incredible safari entertainment with the best food I’ve ever experienced on safari. We danced with Maasai, we swam in the pool, watched a pod of hippo in the river, saw squillions of incredible wildlife (lion, cheetah, rhino, elephant, hippo, crocs, buffalo, so many gazelles, antelopes, wildebeest etc.), had a ‘sundowner under an acacia tree’, played hilarious card games into the night ….. and we walked with the rhino, oh we did!!!!!! Did we see the Big 5 … of course we didn’t, we had far too many noisy children, but we saw four out of five and had the time of our lives, real friends on a proper Kenyan safari.
What incredible men those two cocky youths have turned into; amusing, kind, generous, successful and adventurous. What truly exceptional wives they managed to find themselves (pheow) … and truly impressive children who, completely out of their comfort zones, couldn’t have been more fun, interested or better company, maybe Cardiff ‘not-quite-good-enough-to-be-a-university’ wasn’t so bad after all!!!
Cheers to friendship; cheers to 2018. (To book a proper Kenyan safari, with old friends, and their families, contact The SAFARI Company )
Want to know the best time of year to visit the Maasai Mara? Here’s all you need to know!
I know this is a ‘safari’ blog, but anyone who rates a safari as a perfect holiday, I’m sure will appreciate some tips on a lovely outdoorsy Family Summer in the English Countryside.
Living in Kenya, my sister & I decided to take the three ankle-biters to the UK for a Family Summer in the English Countryside. Slightly dreading the prospect, it turned out to be a roaring success and here is why … Nope we didn’t go the Legoland and Peppapig World route, we rather went the more natural route and we had a blast. Go on, do it, next summer … It’s not extortionate and just so much fun!
We based ourselves for much of the time at the most delicious Duck Cottage – Oxenwood, A perfect little ‘rustic meets luxury’ little guest cottage with two delicious bedrooms, ideal for those of us stupid enough to travel with over-energetic young children. Nestled in the midst of the delumptious Wiltshire hills so very close to Heathrow as well as the market town of Marlborough, the quaint Hungerford, Highclere Castle and the child-heaven Cobbs Farm … in my opinion, a little day trip to Birdworld is also worth it.
We never went to Bowood House & Gardens, Tractor Ted or Winchester Science centre .. oh we will next summer though.
On the days you need to chill, you can feast on the fresh eggs for breakfast, the kids can charge around the wee farm playing with Pixie the pony, Nelly & Nora the piggies or the waddling ducks or you can all stride out for glorious walks and rural adventures in the surrounding countryside .. gosh Tors, the gorgeous owner even brought out a water-slide one day! At the end of the day, there’s a lovely little kitchen where you can cook your supper, a little fire outside to sit by before you climb into the finest French bedlinen at night.
Pssst. In London, we loved the Aquarium, the London Eye (well one person did!), Gifford Circus was an incredibly enjoyable outing, feeding the swans on the Serpentine, the duckbus, a picnic next to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, all good, wholesome wildlife, wilderness, outdoorsy stuff.
Duck Cottage – Oxenwood – The very best little 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage for a family to stay in, if you’re looking for countryside. It is owned by the gorgeous and super-fun Tors who is the hostess with the mostess. Tors lives in the main house on the same land, with her husband Tom and 3 kids (about 6,9,11). We will be back. The Marlborough area – As long as you have a car, the world is your oyster, lovely little villages nearby ideal for shopping trips, great activities for kids, lovely outdoor pubs .. or larger cities like Reading for some serious retail therapy! For those travelling with kids – If you’re looking for somewhere cozy and lovely to stay with space, this is ideal. For those who live in East Africa – this is a perfect summer holiday. Weather – This is England .. who knows? What to Pack? – As little as possible to allow for some serious retail therapy. Price – One bedroom £90.00 per night including continental breakfast. Two bedrooms £140.00 per night including continental breakfast. Rates for longer stays are indeed greatly reduced – please contact us directly to discuss your requirements. My advise – As long as you have a car, this is a lovely little place to stay on your summer holiday …. or in the winter for that matter!